“I told you all that to tell you this.” Henry Rollins speaks out at Paramount Theater, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012
When Henry Rollins speaks, it’s kind of amazing how many – and which – people listen. His background – longtime lead singer of seminal punk act Black Flag, provocateur, film and TV star and the epitome of prolific when it comes to writing – is nothing to balk at, to be sure. But he hasn’t always been seen as the erudite, polite-alomst-to-a-fault, 21st Century renaissance philosopher that he’s grown into over the past decade.
I’ve seen Rollins innumerable times as a skinny, long-or-short-haired (or bald) screaming ball of unending adolescent anger, with multiple bands backing him up (most often in black shorts and tattoos – and nothing else – in front of Black Flag), and he’s always been exhausting, and surprisingly poignant in those settings.
The last three times I’ve had the pleasure of watching Rollins, though, have been in sit-down theaters as he pontificates about anything from his near-inability to say “no” to any project someone hands him (which is a good thing, actually), to the perils and progress of being a nearly 100% self-made man, to travelogues of some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Never, in all of the musical settings that I’ve seen him, have I emerged from the shows as exhausted – and nervously inspired – as I have, consistently, from all of his spoken word acts.